Sable Island National Park Reserve is a remote island that is only accessible by air and by sea. Each method of transportation requires ideal conditions for a trip to occur. Delays and cancellations are common due to weather. Visitors are welcome from June to October.
All visitors must:
- Make their own transportation arrangements to and from Sable Island and be prepared for delays and cancellations.
- Be prepared for a backcountry-like wilderness experience. Be self-reliant and responsible for their own safety.
- Follow the biosecurity measures in place to protect Sable Island.
Air service to Sable Island National Park Reserve is provided by fixed-wing airplane and helicopter. Airplanes land on the beach as there are no permanent runways on the island. Helicopters land on a permanent helipad.
Charter a flight or reserve seats on a group tour. These experiences vary in cost and passenger capacity.
Visitor flights are limited, so plan well in advance!
Reserve seats on a flight or tour (more information)
Charter a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter for your group (more information)
The online visitor request form is available starting January 14, 2021 at 12 pm Atlantic Standard Time.
- Groups planning to charter an aircraft must register in advance with Parks Canada by completing the online visitor request form.
- Visitor requests and dates are approved on a first-come first-served basis.
Due to the high volume of rescheduled flights from 2020, weekend trips via fixed wing plane are only available by purchasing individual seats through tour operators in 2021.
- If you were hoping to charter the entire fixed-wing airplane via Sable Aviation, you may send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to place your group on a weekend standby list and you will be contacted if there is an opening.
- If your group wishes to charter an entire aircraft in 2021, you may submit a request to visit via helicopter (Monday to Thursday).
How to request and register your trip:
1. Contact transportation providers for details, pricing, and availability before submitting the online visitor request form to Parks Canada.
Sable Aviation (fixed-wing airplane)
- Contact Sable Aviation
- Fixed-wing airplane flights can transport up to seven passengers.
- Flights are scheduled on Saturdays only, from June to October. Sundays are reserved as the alternate date if Saturday’s conditions do not allow a flight.
Vision Air (helicopter operator based in Halifax)
- Contact Vision Air
- Helicopter flights can transport up to eight passengers.
- Flights are scheduled between Monday and Thursday, from June to October. Flights are not scheduled on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
2. Complete the online visitor request form when the registration period is open.
Information needed to register:
- How many people will travel in your group?
- What are your top three travel dates?
- Will anyone in your group be taking photos or video for commercial purposes?
Arriving by sea is a time-honoured way to experience Sable Island and connect with its long and rich maritime history.
Sable Island National Park Reserve welcomes visitors by sea from around the world between early June and late October.
Start planning your visit by sea as part of a larger expedition cruise or sailing with a small crew on a private vessel.
Travel by private vessel (more information)
A note about private vessels
All visitors planning to arrive by sea in a private vessel must register in advance with Parks Canada by completing the online visitor request form.
Complete the online visitor request form when the registration period is open starting January 14, 2021 at 12 pm (AST).
Visitor requests are approved by Parks Canada on a first-come first-served basis.
Plan your visit
The following information is required to complete the online visitor request form:
- When do you expect to arrive and how long will you stay?
- How many people will be coming ashore?
- What is your port of origin?
- What is the registered name of vessel?
- What is the type/size/colour of sailing vessel?
- What is the type/size/motor of landing craft?
- Is your anchor suitable for sand?
- Do you have experience with beach landing?
- Do you have a VHF radio on board?
- Do you have access to PFDs for coming ashore?
Critical guidelines for safe landing
If you are in charge of a vessel, the following guidelines are critical for a safe landing. The possibility of heavy fog, shifting sandbars, and rough seas in the waters around Sable Island can pose challenges to boat access. There are no wharf facilities or mooring buoys on Sable Island, and vessels must anchor offshore and have a zodiac or other small boat suitable for a beach landing.
- Before departing the mainland: Vessels should contact the Parks Canada Operations Coordinator at 902-492-4678 to ensure we are aware of your itinerary and you are informed of activities or conditions on the island or offshore that may affect your plans.
- Visitors arriving by sea are responsible for their safe arrival and departure from the island. Parks Canada has limited capabilities on the island to assist in a marine rescue or emergency.
- When within 10 nautical miles of the island: Vessels should contact the island on Marine Radio Channel 8 or 16 to confirm their safe arrival and to obtain any special instructions.
- Vessels must anchor off the north side of the island, opposite the Main Station – at longitude 60.01W. There are submerged sand bars off the beach, and vessels should maintain their distance – 500 meters is usually sufficient, although there are times small boats are able to approach within 200 meters. A zodiac or small boat is required to get ashore and make a beach landing.
- When anchored: Vessels should contact Sable Island on Marine Radio Channel 8 or 16 to advise when they are anchored. The Operations Coordinator can file or close sailing plans as required.
- Landing: Visitors must not attempt to land on the beach until Parks Canada personnel are in position to greet them upon arrival and to provide an orientation and safety briefing.
- Changing conditions may make it hard for a small boat to land or depart from the island, so sailors should be extremely careful about coming through the surf zone, and should have experience in managing beach landings in rough surf.
- Communications: When coming ashore, boat passengers must have a VHF radio and maintain communications with the beach party on Marine Channel 8.
- All boat passengers must have life jackets for beach landings, and zodiacs or small boats must not be overloaded beyond manufacturer’s recommended carrying capacity.
Delays and cancellations can be caused by poor weather or the lack of a safe landing area. Normal delays might last a day or two, although significantly longer delays are possible. Poor weather and beach conditions could prohibit departure or landing of an aircraft or small boat for several days.
- All visitors must be prepared for delays and cancellations, both when attempting to travel to the island and when attempting to depart.
- All visitors must ensure they have adequate supplies, including any prescribed medication, to accommodate unplanned delays.
- In the event of unplanned overnight stay on Sable Island, standard fees apply for accommodation and emergency food rations.
Contact our Visitor Experience Coordinator for more information about planning your trip: